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Lose weight, enjoy the golden years

Moderate weight loss is proven healthy to older women NEW YORK: Shedding just a few pounds can be beneficial to older women s health, and doesn t result in loss of high quality muscle tissue, a new study shows. Dr. Gloria Mazzali of the University of Verona in Italy and colleagues found that obese women …


Moderate weight loss is proven healthy to older women

NEW YORK: Shedding just a few pounds can be beneficial to older women s health, and doesn t result in loss of high quality muscle tissue, a new study shows. Dr. Gloria Mazzali of the University of Verona in Italy and colleagues found that obese women who lost about five percent of their body weight showed a healthier body fat distribution and an increased sensitivity to insulin, reducing their risk of diabetes. As people age, the amount of fat they carry around their abdomen increases, as does the fatty tissue content of their muscles, the investigators pointed out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. These changes in fat distribution are tied to insulin resistance and other problems with metabolism. To investigate the interrelationship between body fat distribution and insulin resistance, Mazzali s team studied 35 women, 58 to 83 years old, including a subgroup of 15 women who were put on diets and lost about five percent of their body weight.

The researchers also evaluated the women s levels of two hormones secreted by fat cells: leptin, which is involved in regulating appetite and metabolism; and adiponectin, which plays a role in sugar and fat metabolism as well as insulin resistance. Mazzali and her colleagues found that the more fat a woman carried around her waist and abdomen, the more likely she was to be insulin resistant. After the obese women lost weight, they showed a healthier body fat distribution, with less fat around their waists and in their muscles.

They also became more sensitive to insulin s effects after losing weight. However, the women did not lose muscle tissue. Losing weight reduced women s leptin levels, but had no effect on adiponectin levels. It s been suggested that older people fare better when they are heavier, given the loss of muscle mass that occurs with age, Dr. Dympna Gallagher of the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke s Roosevelt Hospital in New York writes in an editorial accompanying the study.

These data provide no evidence that age should be considered a risk factor for modest weight loss in obese older persons, she concluded. SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2006

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